In 2007, Virginia’s Two-Year College Transfer Grant Program (CTG) was enacted allowing qualifying students who complete their associate degree at a Virginia two-year public college and then transfer to a participating Virginia four-year college or university to receive up to $3,000 annually. Students must have an associate degree with a 3.0 grade-point-average and meet financial eligibility requirements. The grant will be applied to tuition expenses at a four-year Virginia college or university, either public or private (the grant provides $1,000 for all eligible students, with an extra $1,000 for students who pursue undergraduate work in engineering, mathematics, technology, nursing, teaching or science. An additional $1,000 can be earned for students who transfer to Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, Radford University, University of Virginia – College at Wise, Virginia Commonwealth University, or Virginia State University).
According to Dr. Kellie Sorey, associate vice president for academics at Tidewater Community College who oversees the college/university transfer partnerships, “The Guaranteed Transfer Agreements specify the exact expectations of students up front so there are no surprises. Our community colleges provide an equivalent education to that of the big schools, but are much more affordable. And, with the guaranteed admissions agreements and grant funds, it just makes good sense.”
Blue Ridge Community College Graduate (2014)
Coming to BRCC straight from high school, Gene Stainback could have easily gone elsewhere. He was in the top 10 of his graduating class, president of a club, and member of several honor societies. “There were other opportunities, but there wasn’t an opportunity greater than the one right here (at Blue Ridge).”
He decided the quality of instruction and cost savings were priorities. “Blue Ridge is one of the best places you could go as a student here in the Valley.” Early on, Strainback realized the Guaranteed Admissions Agreement with James Madison University was another great opportunity. He graduated from BRCC with an A.S. and Engineering Specialization in 2014. He achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.9 and was on the President’s List throughout his time at BRCC.
“Whether you’re transferring, earning a degree, or earning a certificate, you leave Blue Ridge ahead of the game. You don’t just leave prepared. You leave with an amazing education, with friends and personal connections. And in a lot of cases, you leave debt-free,” he said.
Stainback then transferred seamlessly to James Madison University from which he graduated last spring with a B.S. in engineering and a cumulative GPA 3.98. He currently works as a mechanical engineer at Leidos in Bridgewater.
Susan (Sue) Richards
Danville Community College Graduate (2016)
Sue Richards came to Danville Community College after she tried to re-enter the workforce and found her skills were – in her words – “woefully out-of-date.” A first-time, first-generation college student, she started at DCC at age 57 and says it completely changed her life.
“It’s given me back my life,” Richards said. “I was afraid at first that I would stick out like a sore thumb, but I found that students of all ages here are very nice, considerate, and caring. I discovered a lot of subjects that really piqued my interest. I suggest that everyone start at community college.”
Richards overcame serious health problems to graduate from DCC with honors in May 2016 with not one, but two associate of applied science degrees in administrative support technology – one in general office and one in medical office specialization – as well as a professional certificate in medical coding. While at DCC, she served as scholarship chair and vice president of the Upsilon Phi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. She was one of two students to receive the Stephanie L. Ferguson Medallion of Courage Award at graduation.
Now, thanks to the VCCS guaranteed transfer program, she is studying business management online at Regent University and preparing to move to Virginia Beach to continue her studies.
Richards credits DCC Transfer Coordinator, Kirstin Pantazis, with making the transfer process relatively easy. “She was such a big help as far as getting our transcripts out to the schools, letting us know when to apply, and suggesting we visit the campus.”
After finishing her studies at Regent, Richards’ goal is to establish a medical billing service and help other students by providing internships and jobs. “I would like to come back after graduation and create some opportunity for students in the area.”
Central Virginia Community College Graduate (2013)
After graduating from Amherst County High School, Jessica hoped to attend UVA, but was not accepted. She set her sights on transferring there after two years. In the meantime, Robertson pursued an associate degree in liberal arts & sciences at CVCC in order to use the guaranteed admissions agreement that Virginia Community Colleges have with more than 30 Virginia public universities.
“My expectations at CVCC were exceeded,” Robertson said. “CVCC not only became my first post-secondary experience, but also my home.”
Robertson kept busy while at CVCC as a work-study student and later as a part-time employee in the Financial Aid Office. She also served as student ambassador “which allowed me to get involved in community service, build experience in leadership, and make some really great friends along the way.”
In May of her second year at CVCC, Robertson received an acceptance letter from the University of Virginia. Her hard work had paid off. “The following August I started classes at UVA, having transferred 64 credits from CVCC,” she said. “My first semester was difficult. I had to adjust to larger class sizes and feeling smaller than I had ever felt. However, I was able to adapt and build a new community at UVA.”
By the last semester of her fourth year, Robertson began applying for jobs in UVA’s development department. She was soon offered a position as a leadership annual gift officer in UVA’s College of Arts & Sciences.
“Although my days are fully immersed in the land of Wahoos now,” Robertson added, “I try to visit my family at CVCC every chance I get! A lyric that has really resonated with me, sung by Tim McGraw, is ‘When you get where you’re going don’t forget to turn back around, and help the next one in line.’”
Piedmont Virginia Community College Graduate (2016)
When Navy Submariner Patrick Fritz was medically retired from active service in 2011, he knew he needed to find a new career to support his family, and that meant going back to school.
“It was definitely a concern,” said Fritz. “I was worried that I was too old or that I wouldn’t be able to transition from the military environment to the academic environment. However, the exact opposite has been true. For newly separated veterans, it’s a great way to transition from the rigid structure of the military into civilian life. There is a structure not unlike the military actually. Just like the military, you have to be on time, you have to manage your time efficiently, and you have to meet strict deadlines.”
As a 15-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, Fritz was interested in public policy, particularly veterans’ issues, and knew that community college would be a good starting point, especially as a first-time college student.
Fritz made his decision to attend PVCC after speaking with Veterans and Admissions Advising Counselor Jackie Fisher.
“The support services here are incredible,” said Fritz. “Jackie Fisher is always available to provide support. Her desire to serve the veterans and willingness to go above and beyond made me apply. After speaking with her, I began researching PVCC. The quality of education and the college’s commitment to the success of the students, both while at PVCC and beyond, made the decision to attend easy.”
In spring 2016, Fritz graduated with an associate degree in liberal arts, and transferred to the University of Virginia to complete his bachelor’s degree in political philosophy, policy, and law. He’s already made the decision to continue on and earn his master’s degree and intends to enroll in an accelerated master’s program through the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at UVA. Once he’s earned his master’s degree, he plans to either work with veterans’ issues at the local level or with immigration law.
“Returning to school in general, and PVCC particularly, has been one of the best and most rewarding decisions I have ever made,” said Fritz. “The military has instilled the drive to be the best, and PVCC allows the opportunity to continue that and provides a supportive environment that fosters the development of new skills. At PVCC, the rewards are directly proportional to the effort you put in. The foundation I have received here will provide me with the tools to succeed wherever I am.”
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